D&M Exec on What’s to Become of Escient
Bob Weissburg, president of D&M Holdings NA: Escient will no longer make standalone products but still support dealers and create technology for D&M and third-party brands
Earlier today D&M Holdings announced it would discontinue two of its franchises, Escient and Snell, to focus on its core A/V brands: Denon, Marantz, McIntosh and Boston Acoustics.
We spoke with D&M Holdings NA president Bob Weissburg about the decision to drop Escient, a pioneer in media management.
He says D&M “agonized” over the decision to discontinue the brand, but in the end it made more sense to keep the engineering but lose the products.
“As a standalone business, it’s tough,” he says, “but if you take the good stuff and put it into other products, it makes sense. The company felt the overall value of Escient was more so in the technology to help further differentiate and add value to Denon and Marantz.”
Both of those companies, Denon in particular, have borrowed media-management technology from Escient in the past. Denon offers a host of networked receivers and other A/V devices that provide rich interaction with content on the home network and in the cloud.
And that’s where the market is going, according to Weissburg.
“Consumers like the technology,” he says, “but they don’t necessarily want a standalone piece.”
Even so, he “thinks” there may still be room for pricey dedicated media servers – “maybe not in the current form.”
What’s to Become of Escient?
The techies in Escient’s Indianapolis headquarters are still in place and the company is “fulfilling obligations to the many people that own Escient,” Weissburg says.
In fact, in about 60 days Escient will release the long-awaited update for its discontinued Vision movie server, according to Weissburg.
“I’ve already seen some of the impact of it,” he says. “It’s tremendous, with more than 150 improvements to the existing product in functionality, video performance ….”
All of that extra effort for Vision wasn’t wasted. Much of the technology – like support for Sony’s 400-disc Blu-ray changer—is employed in the Loewe Mediacenter from Germany-based Loewe, an upscale manufacturer of A/V products.
D&M began an OEM relationship last year with Loewe, resulting in the recently released media server that acts like an Escient but looks like the stylish family of Loewe products.
“They have a successful media server and we’ll keep that going,” Weissburg says.
So why not keep Escient going?
D&M has a strong presence across the globe, but Escient is unknown outside of the U.S., Weissburg explains. On the other hand, “Loewe is well known as a high-quality premium brand.”
Escient engineers will continue their work with Loewe and also feed the flagship D&M brands. “Over the next year, you’ll start to see Escient-esque technology in products like Denon and Marantz,” Weissburg explains.
In the meantime, Escient music servers will continue to be sold until supplies run out – probably in about 30 days.
(next page for Loewe Mediacenter)
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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